Caring and sharing

July 2009 Posted in Community

By Linda WhitmoreWorking in Silverton Church of the Nazarene’s Compassion Garden are, from left, Marjorie and Dwayne St. Clair, Pat Smith and Wilburn Crockett.

A core trait in our towns is that neighbors care and share. With the economy down and the jobless rate up, residents are jumping into action to assist others.

To help out with the increased need for food assistance, a concept sprouted at two Silverton churches and immediately grew. The idea of creating gardens to raise produce for the community simultaneously originated at St. Paul’s Catholic Church and Silverton Church of the Nazarene. In fact, organizers of each were not aware the other was doing the same thing.

A community garden of a different sort, but with the goal of helping fill pantries, also is under way in neighboring Molalla, where a five-year old program doubled in numbers this season and is expected to expand again next spring.


Dwayne St. Clair, a new member of Silverton Church of the Nazarene , came up with an idea to make a garden to feed those in need so he approached his pastor, the Rev. Dominic Carlo.

“Pastor said, ‘that’s strange, I had a dream about that,’” St. Clair said. And they went to work.

“You get that pastor going and he goes!” said St. Clair.
Immediately St. Clair and his wife, Marjorie, and fellow church members Wilburn Crockett and Pat Smith got busy.

The owner of an undeveloped lot on South Water Street across from the church agreed to let them use the land for $1 a year. A good deal – but it was filled with rock and unsuitable for planting.

The volunteers arranged with the city of Silverton for water and they cleared rock.

Because the soil was bad they decided to build raised beds – but there was no money available for supplies.

“Pastor made an announcement in church that anyone who wanted to could ‘buy’ a bed,” said St. Clair, and they got the lumber and soil they needed. “We didn’t have the money to put the beds in but by golly, it sure came together in no time.”

“Ask and you shall receive,” added Wilburn Crockett.

Carlo went to Silverton Garden Club seeking advice about planting vegetables. Right away the club offered its help. The board wrote the church a $200 check for “seed money.”

Drip hoses, pepper plants and 200 tomato plants were donated by club members and nursery growers – so many tomato plants, in fact, that the pastor took some to a church in Cottage Grove to share the bounty.

Marjorie St. Clair said her daughter in Texas sent seeds “for Dad’s garden.” Other seeds came from Marion Polk Foodshare.

Crockett got busy building the shed and the wooden beds. Sunday School children planted seeds in cups for the garden. Today the garden is burgeoning with fresh vegetables.

“It was the vision of three and donations by many and lots of prayer went into it,” said Marjorie St. Clair.

“We’re really please and excited about next year,” added Smith, who is head of the church’s Compassionate Ministries program.

“We want the produce to go to people with needs,” she said. “Call the church office and get on the list.”


Across town, another congregation began the same type of project this spring.

“I got the crazy notion in the middle of a church meeting,” said Cathy Peters. “Father William (Hammelman) was so excited when I talked to him about it his eyes lit up like crazy.”Cathy Peters and Sandy Cakebread harvest a cabbage from St. Paul’s Catholic Church’s Filias Garden.

St. Paul’s Church had the land, but it required a lot of work to get it into gardening shape.

“Memorial weekend Father was out here with a ditch witch and we installed the water system,” said parishioner Sandy Cakebread.

They call it Filias Garden, “meaning ‘community’,” Cakebread said. Anyone, church member or not, can get involved. He told how a neighbor walking by when they were sowing seeds turned around and went home to get his planter for them to use.

It’s not a traditional community garden where individuals have their own plot. Volunteers work in the garden and the harvest will be given away.

“We have no set plan, but we definitely want it to be open to whoever wants and needs it,” said Peters. “I know we have a huge population in our community that is tight on funds.”

There are “corn, beans, pumpkins, watermelons, gourds, radishes, weeds and cabbage,” he said.

“Father put in 14 or so peppers – but they’re cockscomb (a flower.) Some gardener he is!” Cakebread laughed. “He got the seed from his brother, who must have played a joke on him.”

The organizers are pleased with the results of their quickly developed garden and plan to continue the project. “It’s open to the community,” said Peters, “Who knows what will come of it in a few years.”


The city of Molalla has had a community garden for about five years, said City Recorder Sadie Cramer, who with three council members operates the project near the Aquatic Center on Francis Street.

This spring there was such an increase in interest the number of plots was doubled to 30 – and there was a waiting list.

For a $15 fee, residents can raise food in individual 10- by 15-foot plots. The city tills the land and supplies water to the site.

Changes are planned next year, Cramer said. A community committee will take over operation and gardening participants will be responsible for their own soil preparation. The program will expand to year-round so folks can grow winter vegetables.

“The fees that come in will be reinvested in the community garden for irrigation, soil and fertilizer,” Cramer said.

While vegetables fill most of the plots, some folks have planted a few flowers. There are also four beds dedicated to the senses of sight, smell, sound and touch. “There’s a picnic table there for people to come and enjoy the Sensory Garden,” Cramer said. “It’s been a big hit.”

The Community Garden project has begun to conduct region-wide meetings where anyone can learn about home gardening. Cramer is helping lead this effort; contact her at 503-829-6855, ext. 291, or

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